Founded in 1976 by Jeremy James Taylor, NYMT’s beginnings were at Belmont, the Mill Hill junior school. Here, under Jeremy’s direction and inspired by Ben Jonson’s moving epitaph on an actor who died very young, an 11-13 cast created The Ballad of Salomon Pavey.
Following its school performance, the show went to the Edinburgh Fringe where it won a Fringe First Award and an invitation to bring it to London as part of Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee Celebrations.
In 1984 Frank Dunlop, the new Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, invited the company to present an opera on the Festival programme. Such was the success of this that, in 1986, he presented two more NYMT productions, which raised the profile of the company to new heights. Then, in 1987, Richard Stilgoe offered NYMT the opportunity to première his new musical, Bodywork.
In 1988, NYMT moved to Sadlers Wells, providing an annual 3-week season. An excellent first season at Sadlers Wells led to the BBC broadcast of The Ragged Child the following Christmas, a host of productions across the UK and others as far afield as Tokyo, Norway, Greece and New York.
In 1991, Andrew Lloyd-Webber gave the company a new lease of life, which included invitations to Hong Kong and Toronto and an extraordinary short season on Broadway in the 2,600 seat City Center Theater with The Threepenny Opera and Pendragon - which won Critic's Choice in the New York Times and which also won the coveted HAMADA Edinburgh Festival Award.
In 1996, Bugsy Malone was performed at the Queen's Theatre in the West End at Christmas 1997 for an 11 week capacity run. The following busy years saw NYMT spread its workshops into Northern Ireland, the North East and East Anglia and, during this time, Howard Goodall and Charles Hart gave NYMT The Kissing Dance, which enjoyed a Christmas season at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre. They then followed this with The Dreaming.
NYMT's production of Oklahoma!, which opened at the Waterfront, Belfast in 2002, moved to the Cardiff International Festival of Musicals.
In the summer of 2003, Sir Alan Ayckbourn wrote and directed a new work, Orvin, Champion of Champions, for NYMT, which he presented in his own theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, as part of the theatre's summer season.
In 2008, NYMT produced a new Richard Taylor and Russell Labey version of Whistle Down the Wind at the Greenwich Theatre. At the same time and as part of NYMT's Workshop Productions initiative, aimed at developing new musicals with young people, the company produced All Above Board - with book and lyrics by Hal S. Davies and music by Mike Eastman - at the Bridewell Theatre, London, in October 2008.
In the summer of 2009 NYMT staged a new production, directed by Andrew Pearson, of Howard Goodall and Melvyn Bragg's The Hired Man. Following performances at the New Hull Truck Theatre, the show was reprised in London at RADA's Vanburgh Theatre in aid of the Lord Mayor's Appeal and in the presence of Lord Bragg.
Highlights of the 2011 season included an invitation from Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to perform for a reception at Buckingham Palace celebrating Young People in the Performing Arts. The specially commissioned performance in the ballroom, which had been inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, also featured the English National Ballet, Joe McElderry, Flawless, Alleviate and the Docklands Sinfonia. Excerpts from West Side Story were choreographed by Cristian Valle and the music was directed by Mike Batt. In July of that year, NYMT staged a new production of Sweeney Todd at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, for the International Youth Arts Festival.
35 Years Strong:
In April 2012 the company marked its 35th anniversary at London's Vaudeville Theatre with a concert featuring alumni, Matt Lucas, Gina Beck, Amy Nuttall, Lara Pulver, Michael Jibson, and Ian Virgo. The year also saw a remarkable collaboration with the outstanding American musical theatre composer, lyricist and playwright, Jason Robert Brown, who directed a young NYMT cast in the West End première of his musical 13 at The Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue. Sarah Redmond also directed Brown's first work, Songs for a New World, at the Bridewell Theatre.
In the summer of 2013 NYMT staged three major productions in one of the most exciting seasons ever which ended with an epic, site-specific production of West Side Story, in the vast Victoria Warehouse, Manchester, directed by Nikolai Foster.
The Ragged Child opened the 2014 season with performances for the IYAF at The Rose and at the Cambridge Summer Music Festival. Then followed two outstanding works to mark the Great War centenary. Nikolai Foster’s production of The Hired Man drew capacity audiences at the St James Theatre with a cast including actor-musicians and with arrangements by Tony Award-winning musical director, Sarah Travis.
At this same time, NYMT also commissioned Brass by Benjamin Till. Based on the real-life Leeds Pals, a battalion of friends who enlisted to fight in the Great War and who suffered unimaginable losses on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, Brass was premièred at the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds on the very stage where many of the real life Leeds Pals had signed up. Brass went on to win the UK Theatre Award for Best Musical Production that year and is now published by R&H Theatricals (Europe). As a result of a tremendous fund-raising effort by the cast, and supported by the Mackintosh Foundation and the Richard Carne Trust, the company was able to produce the original cast recording.
Staying Ahead with the Curve:
In 2016, NYMT became a Curve Associate Artist and return produced the multi-award winning rock musical, Spring Awakening. The new work this year was John Rutter’s children’s opera, The Piper of Hamelin, with libretto by Jeremy James Taylor and featuring a huge cast of younger company members. This touring production played at the Bury St Edmunds Festival (Theatre Royal) at the IYAF in Kingston, at Curve Leicester and at the EM Forster Theatre, Tonbridge School.
For the 2017 season, NYMT commissioned two outstanding new works: Imaginary by Timothy Knapman and Stuart Matthew Price, and Billy The Kid by Ben Morales Frost and Richard Hough, and the 2018 season saw the production of four British musicals – three of them new. Super Hero, by NYMT alumni Adam Johnson and Henry Roadnight, is a colourful comedy that delighted audiences on a mini-tour of festivals, whilst A Little Princess by Carl Miller and Marc Folan – based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett – was, by contrast, a romantic and thrilling drama, combining elements of classical Indian music and dance with a rich musical theatre score.
Beautiful and Strange:
In his 70th birthday year we presented Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Beautiful Game with book and lyrics by Ben Elton and, to round off our annual season at The Other Palace Theatre in London, NYMT gave the première of another commission, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Helen Watts and Eamonn O’Dwyer. Based on the short story by Washington Irving, this musical tells of strange events, tales of witches and ghouls, of wailing banshees and headless horsemen, and, of course, the tale of the enigmatic outsider, Ichabod Crane.
The 2019 season featured more new musicals, including Growl – The True Story of the Big Bad Wolf, by Timothy Knapman and Laurence Mark Wythe. During rehearsals, Growl had made a great impression on a visiting youth theatre company, Fresh Vogur, from Shanghai. We were delighted to form a collaborative partnership with the company and to help facilitate their own performances of Growl in China.
Another 2019 production was Jason Robert Brown’s Parade which provided a poignant backdrop to the injustice of the killing of George Floyd. The cast and musicians were moved to create a virtual performance in lockdown of the song Till We Reach That Day in support of Black Lives Matter.
The 2020 season started with our nationwide auditions attracting more applicants than ever. However, it soon became clear that our usual Easter residential rehearsals could not go ahead as the country went into lockdown. Our creative teams – like everyone else – quickly adapted online, and we all did our best to be innovative, offering online readthroughs, workshops, Q&A evenings with alumni, quiz nights and virtual performances.
The following year, NYMT somehow, miraculously, managed to present an outstanding trio of productions, with the latest commission, Henrietta by Katie Lam and Alex Parker, directed by Kate Golledge, and a new production of Billy The Kid, directed by James Robert Moore.
The centrepiece of the 2021 season was The Hunchback of Notre Dame, based on the Victor Hugo novel with songs from the Disney film, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Peter Parnell, and staged in Manchester Cathedral.
The 2022 season opened in July with NYMT In Concert at the Rose Theatre, Kingston as part of Creative Youth’s FUSE Festival. This new venture enabled us to provide a platform for a large cast and orchestra in performance of an eclectic programme of highlights from a wide range of musicals, many of which were originally commissioned and premièred by NYMT.
As Associate Artists at Curve Theatre, Leicester, NYMT was delighted to present there a large-scale production of Chess by Benny Andersson, Tim Rice and Björn Ulvaeus.
The première of A Kiss for Cinderella by Annabel Mutale Reed and Jack Trzcinski was particularly poignant. The work is an adaptation of J. M. Barrie's 1916 play of the same name and follows Jane, a young girl from across the sea, and the refugee children she takes care of – Flo, Blue and Krista – in 1940s London during the Blitz. These girls have each brought their own version of the tale of Cinderella with them and are determined that Jane is the Cinderella the stories all tell about. It is particularly fitting that our cast included 12-year-old Sonya Petrova who, with her mother, fled from Ukraine to Britain. Sonya had been studying at the National Opera and Ballet School in Odessa but is now living with her mother and their sponsor in the Lake District.
The final production of the 2022 season was Ragtime by Terrence Mcnally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.
From Now On:
Our history inspires our future. We will be excited to share new stories with you from 2023 and beyond through our social media channels.